Before Week 15, there were 8 victims of the NFL grind, and with arguable exceptions, they were all declared 'dead men walking' quite some time ago.
After Week 15's slate of games, there would be another quartet of lifeless masses heaped upon the Football Nation Morgue, all with just a smidgen more optimism than that original group of tagged-and-bagged cases.
As these final weeks play out, the air of frustration surrounding the final batch of departed souls will be thick enough to cut with a Ginsu knife, as that group will have collapsed at a critical pass. Quite a stark contrast to the first few to get wheeled in here.
As for this week's collection of cadavers, they fell somewhere in the middle: optimistic at times, but never with blinders.
And speaking of blind, maybe a few of em checked off the 'eyes' box on their organ donor cards....
Subject: Buffalo Bills
Date of Death: December 16, 2012
Record at Time of Death: 5-9
Contributing Factors to Death:
1. Massive Defensive Failure
When you sign a hybrid linebacker/defensive end, one who was a first overall pick just six years ago, you probably have high expectations for him. When you sign him for $100M, and $50M of it guaranteed, you're REALLY setting expectations to their max.
Mario Williams strolled into Buffalo this spring a much richer man, and it came with the notion that he would improve a defense that gave up 27.1 PPG and and 139 rushing YPG in 2011.
Instead, in 2012, Buffalo has given up 28.7 PPG and 144.1 rushing YPG.
But the blame can't entirely fall on Williams, although some scribes have laid a lot at the feet of "Super Mario". It's not his job to cover receivers deep, and Buffalo's allowed 8 100-yard receivers on the season (including tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Vernon Davis), so clearly blaming one man, arguably overpaid as he might be, is absurd.
Is that in any way better than the 6 100-yard rushers they've allowed? Only one of them broke the 144.1 yard average, and that was Chris Johnson on a 195-yard day in October.
The Bills have also allowed opponents to score 45+ points on them 4 times, including 2 of 50+, and it should go without saying that they're 0-4 in those games. That's almost half their losses right there.
2. Too Many Turnovers
Scores of ESPN talking heads have uttered banalities like "you can't commit turnovers and expect to win in the National Football League!"
Stating of the obvious that it is, they're right.
Buffalo's tied for fourth place with Arizona in total turnovers; an unhealthy 29 of them. Of those 29, 16 are picks, and the other 13 are lost fumbles.
Incredibly, the league average for fumbles (not lost, just mere fumbles) is 19.2 per club, and Buffalo is better than that average with 19 separations.
In other words, they've fumbled 19 times, and only managed to regain possession 6 times.
Ryan Fitzpatrick's been separated from the ball 7 times, while Fred Jackson fumbled 5 times in 10 games. That ties his career high of 5 fumbles in 2010, but that was over a 16 game schedule.
And while Fitzpatrick's 15 picks (Brad Smith chucked the other) are down from his 23 last year, he also throws 4 less passes a game (35.5 last year, 31.7 this season).
3. Can't Beat Good Teams, or Even Some Lousy Ones
Of the Bills' 9 losses, 6 of them came against teams with winning records: the Patriots twice, 49ers, Texans, Colts and Seahawks.
Buffalo is one of 5 teams in the league to be winless against teams currently holding winning records. Only Tennessee (0-7) has more losses in that regard.
Of Buffalo's 5 wins, 4 opponents are already out of playoff contention: the Chiefs, Cardinals, Browns, and Jaguars. Only the Dolphins remain in the hunt, and they're facing extinction this week.
The other 4 losses came against the Dolphins in their other meeting, and the barely-alive Rams. They also lost a pair to already-deceased teams: the Jets and the Titans.
Sure, Tennessee can't beat winning teams, but they can eke one out over Buffalo.
(For all previously written autopsies, including the Eagles, Browns, Panthers, and others, click here)